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School’s Role in Your Child’s Custody

Posted by Mattis Law, A.P.C. in Child Custody

It’s a part of nearly every parent’s life: taking your children to school. We don’t think much about it, but maybe we need to start. Controversy has boiled up around certain policies that schools have in place for how they manage parental pickups, in particular, when the parents are divorced.

If you are going through a custody dispute in San Diego, it’s important that you communicate with your children’s school to make sure they are informed of the situation and know who is and is not allowed to pick up your children from school.

The Proof Is in the Court Orders

A number of news stories have made the rounds recently that highlight safety issues that kids can have at schools, in particular, with non-custodial relatives. These matters range from non-custodial relatives accessing school records all the way to outright kidnapping by relatives. And while schools may not want to intervene when it comes to parental disputes, they have a duty of care to make sure your children are safe while they are on school premises.

There are many misconceptions about what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to the privacy of children’s school records. According to Gary Sigrist, CEO of Safeguard Risk Solutions, many schools mistakenly accept one parent’s word regarding a custody dispute. He says, “Unless there is a specific court order forbidding them to have access, that parent still has the right to their child’s school records.”

The same rule applies when it comes to which parent has the right to pick up a child from school. School systems can be held responsible if they allow a non-custodial parent to take children from school when there is a court order forbidding that parent from doing so. Schools therefore need clear protocols in place for determining which parents have custodial rights.

Sigrist gave an example from his personal experience. “We had a non-custodial parent come to school and demand to be able to eat lunch with his child. The mother provided, at the beginning of the school year, certified court documents showing the father could only have custody or visitation rights on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. If the mother hadn’t submitted custody paperwork at the beginning of the school year, the school wouldn’t know that the father wasn’t supposed to have contact with the child.”

Any parents who are going through a custody dispute need to clearly communicate court rulings regarding custody to the school administrators as soon as possible. It may be the only way to prevent a worst-case scenario: having a non-custodial parent kidnap a child from school premises.

It is critical to have a San Diego family attorney who can advise you on all of the issues involved with child custody. At Mattis Law, A.P.C., your child’s safety is our number one concern. Call (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free consultation today.

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